What Vinnies does

Every day, our workers and volunteers deliver aid to people unable to find secure and adequately paid work, and we witness the financial pressure and emotional toll this puts on them and their families. Vinnies assists people who are unemployed or underemployed by conducting home visits and helping with food and utility bills.

The St Vincent de Paul Society envisions an Australia that prides itself on its strong sense of justice and compassion. We aim to stand in solidarity with people who are living in poverty and experiencing disadvantage. We also strive to bring about greater awareness of the structural issues that give rise to inequality, for example, high unemployment, a weak social safety net and unfair tax structures. Learn more about these issues and how you can get involved below:

Breaking down barriers

  • Unemployment and underemployment

Unemployment exists not because people are not prepared to work: the reality is that the jobs are simply not available. Australia has a persistently high rate of long-term unemployment, with over half a million people (65 per cent of those on Newstart or Youth Allowances) unable to find work for over 12 months.

 

Sadly, for people caught in a cycle of precarious and insecure work, having a job does not necessarily mean escaping poverty either. There has been a rapid growth in low-paid, part-time and precarious work and it is having a devastating impact on families and individuals. One in four Australians and half of employed 15 to 24-year-olds are in casual jobs, without access to leave entitlements.

 

Vinnies calls on the Government to implement a comprehensive Jobs Plan to tackle unemployment and reverse the growing rates of underemployment. We need a plan with a long-term perspective and an integrated strategy that links education, training, and government investment in genuine job opportunities. Such a plan would ensure adequate income for the unemployed and go beyond the ineffectual and haphazard policy measures that have demonised the long-term unemployed, such as Work for the Dole and punitive compliance requirements. Read our Federal Budget Priorities Statement 2018 for more details about what a successful Jobs Plan could entail.

 

  • A strong social safety net

The position of the Society has consistently been that income support payments should be accessible to those who need it and paid at a level that ensures human dignity and an adequate standard of living

-We need increased and appropriately indexed support payments

Newstart has not increased in real terms in 24 years, but the cost of essentials has drastically increased. Vinnies supports the campaign to #RaiseTheRate of Newstart Allowance and independent Youth Allowance by $75 a week and indexing payments to wages and price increases as an urgent priority. Forcing people to live below the poverty line does not help people into jobs; rather, it acts as a barrier to employment and participation. Click here to view Vinnies new animation highlighting this very point; it shows how the current payment of just $38.99 per day is simply not enough to meet basic living costs. Inadequate indexation has meant that payments and allowances have fallen behind wages growth and behind the costs of essential services. Vinnies also supports the establishment of an independent payments review commission or tribunal to regularly assess the adequacy of all social security payments (including pensions, allowances, family payments and supplements) and indexation arrangements. Currently, there is no regular independent assessment of the adequacy of income support payments.

 

-Compliance Activities and Compulsory Income Management

Onerous obligations and punishing sanctions do not create jobs or help people to find work.  We therefore urge the Government to wind back, rather than expand, draconian participation requirements and sanctions for people who are unemployed. This includes a range of programs which target specific regions or population groups, such as compulsory income management, the cashless debit card, the ParentsNext Program and the Community Development Program. The proposed drug-testing trial is another measure that is expensive, lacks supporting evidence, and is likely to increase harms including stigma, marginalisation and poverty.  

 

-Automated debt recovery

Vinnies strongly opposes the continuation and expansion of Centrelink’s automated debt recovery program. Despite widespread evidence of hardship and harm and an ongoing lack of procedural fairness, the Government continues to issue false debts and demand repayments from highly vulnerable individuals. This program is premised on a system that punishes people who receive social security and results in people repaying debts they do not owe.

 

  • A fair and equitable tax system

The largest increase in the cost-of-living over the past six years has come, not from taxes, but from out-of-pocket expenses for services such as healthcare, childcare and education. At the same time, changes to the tax system have disproportionately benefited the wealthy and eroded government revenue. At Vinnies, we believe taxation is a profoundly moral matter and therefore we opposed personal and corporate income tax cuts in 2018. Tax is the primary means for ensuring the equitable distribution of wealth, as well as raising the public money that supports the community’s needs.

 

In addition to reforming taxes for investment income and superannuation, comprehensive action is needed to curb tax avoidance by removing the tax shelters and loopholes that stem from the inconsistent tax treatment of private trusts and companies. As a nation we can only provide for those most in need if we structure our tax system to raise revenue fairly and sustainably.

 

Get Involved

  • Read these personal accounts of people experiencing severe cost of living pressures.
  • Donate or volunteer your time at a Vinnies shop or donate funds to our accommodation and support services around Australia. 

 

Learn more

2019

2018

2017

2016

2014

2012-13